US government orders UK carriers to extend no-fly list Brits travelling to non-US destinations, even on flights that don't pass through US airspace

The Independent's Simon Calder reports that the US Department of Homeland Security has ordered air carriers to hand over the personal information of British people travelling to the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada, even for flights that don't fly over US airspace. What's more, they demand the right to order passengers to be yanked from flights right up to boarding time, without explanation. Essentially, they're extraterritorializing the No-Fly list, a list of thousands and thousands of people who are deemed -- for secret reasons -- to be so dangerous that they're not allowed to fly, but not so dangerous that they can be arrested.

Given that this is April 1, I'm slightly suspicious, as this is so blatantly evil that it's hard to believe that UK carriers would capitulate to it. On the other hand, everyone capitulates to the undemocratic absurdities of the American security-industrial apparatus.

Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, told The Independent: "The concern by the US for its own security is entirely understandable, but it seems to me it's a whole different issue that American wishes should determine the rights and choices of people travelling between two countries neither of which is the US."

...Any passenger who refuses to comply will be denied boarding. Those who do supply details may find their trip could be abruptly cancelled by the Department of Homeland Security, which says it will "take boarding pass determinations up until the time a flight leaves the gate ... If a passenger successfully obtains a boarding pass, his/her name is not on the No Fly list." In other words, travellers cannot find out whether they will be accepted on board until they reach the airport...

The US will have full details of all British visitors to Cuba, including business travellers, which could potentially be used to identify people suspected of breaking America's draconian sanctions against the Castro regime.

Neil Taylor, a tour operator who pioneered tourism to Cuba, said: "Imagine if the Chinese were to ask for such data on all passengers to Taiwan, and similarly if the Saudis were to ask about flights to Israel – would the US government understand?

"One also has to wonder how an American traveller in Europe would react if he were denied boarding on a flight from London to Rome because the German government had not received sufficient data from him."

Planning a trip to Canada or the Caribbean? US Immigration may have other ideas... (via /.)

(Image: Malleus Maleficarum (title page) by Heinrich Kramer, Wikimedia Commons)


  1. With my whole heart and soul I am wishing this is just an April Fools joke… but it fits in with how they have been behaving.

    1. At a certain point it’s not just a matter of U.S. overreach, it’s a matter of how far the U.K. will bend over backwards to go along with such insane demands. Sooner or later someone has to say “no.”

  2. From what my history books say, the U.K. is part of Oceania. So what’s your problem, Cory?

  3. I just wanted to say how much I love the final tag “ZOMGWEREALLGONNADIERUNHIDE”. Very apt.

  4. I really hope that the various governments do what our spinless citizenry have failed to do, and tell Homeland Security to drag their pathetic and cowardly asses into a hole and die.

    The amount of civil liberty and money pissed away over a way of dying that ranks right up there with shark attacks is very sad commentary on the character of the Americans these days. Far more worthy and braver Americans stormed beach heads where every other man was killed. Braver Americans faced bayonet charges during the Civil and Revolutionary Wars. Vastly more worthy Americans faced down police lines during the Civil Rights movement and took beatings and risked death. Now look at us. We are a bunch of fucking cowards that can’t hand over our civil liberties and cash fast enough to combat a threat that ranks well below lightening strikes and can’t even be shown on the same scale as the threat of eating your fat ass to death.


    I wish the cowards that mew to the politicians to save them from the scary terrorist at least had the decency to be cowards quietly and refrain from voting or traveling. The Americans who don’t piss themselves at the oh-so-scary prospect of a 1 in a few million chance that our flight is going to be blown up would be ecstatic if the cowards would kindly fuck off.

    Don’t call this shit security, paranoia, or anything of that nature. Even calling it paranoia elevates this stupid shit far beyond what it is. Call this action and actions like it what it is… Cowardice. The Americans are a bunch of cowards.

    There are a lot of great things about America, but whenever Homeland Security and the TSA comes up, I feel nothing but the deepest sense of shame for what pathetic cowards we have shown our selves to be.  I personally do my part by pointing my finger at any coward idiot afraid of a one in a few million chance of death and call them out as cowards.  You should do the same.  It isn’t until we feel shame for how cowardly we are behaving that this sort of crap will stop.

    1. I have a feeling you may be onto a winner there…

      As cowardly as they’ve become, many Americans still seem to be plenty belligerent.

      “No-one… calls me… chicken!

  5. As easy as it is for people to point the finger at the US and be angry (and, indeed, I am an American and I AM ANGRY), shouldn’t UK citizens be more angry at their own government for its continual slide into becoming essentially a US territory?

    1. I think most Brits realise that the UK became an unofficial US state in 1945.
      I don’t think a ‘continual slide’ is an appropriate metaphor. We were already neck deep a long time ago.
      Remember Tony Blair’s speech in the US saying ‘Oh yes indeed, we really must help you invade Iraq because Sadam Hussein has invented a death ray?’ And why? Because his vanity was fed by being filmed in the White House with a real (?) American president. Like most prime ministers he was in awe of the US and liked to pretend he was a bigshot as well. The politics of ego.

    2. Well from what I gather this has been asked of UK airlines, I don’t think it’s a government mandated thing.

      Also, what do you think this is?  Some kind of democracy?

        1. And here’s where it gets “HMMMMM”.
          The story says March 26th but there was only one comment (Roch!: This is total BS) on that day. Then there was a gap until April 1st UK time in comments. I was the 4th commenter on the page and that was last night. As inflammatory as this article is, I would expect far more comments in that 6 day span.

          Suspiciously, Roch!’s only Discus activity was to make that comment.

          I don’t think it’s too outlandish to propose that the Independent created the article on the 26th, left it unpublished, made the comment with a fake account, and then made the article publicly available on 4/1.

          The Discus activity is the only part keeping a website admin from altering what day the page says it was published. This isn’t a newspaper that was tossed on your doorstep.

          In closing: I wrote this comment on 14th November 2067. I am from your future MWAHAHAHA

          In regards to Catty’s forthcoming comment: Invest in clear, nonpharma-tainted water.

          1. The wonderful future where we have robot butlers and flying cars? Or the horrible future where humans are forced to battle gladiator-style for the amusement of their robot overlords?

          2. True, that does look a bit suspicious.  On the other hand, it’s eminently believable – we’ll just have to see tomorrow.

  6. “but not so dangerous that they can be arrested”
    Um… I don’t think you can be arrested just for “being dangerous”. Well, not unless you live under a totalitarian regime.

      1. Dude, that’s not being arrested for “being dangerous”, which is not a crime. That would be being arrested for actual criminal activity, which _is_ a crime.

        1. And if your “plotting” is just searching Google for “bomb” or tweeting that you’re going to have a “blast” in the US? You happy to go to Gitmo on the allegations of some TSA agents?

        2. I think you have discovered a new SF title:”Being Dangerous” – the latest work of fiction from the desk of xxx about Rham Teimes a small time dealer of home-brew X-box games that stumbles into an ominous communications network whose clients include governments, terrorists and financial powers who would stop at nothing to keep their secrets secret. . . 

  7. This is horrible and stupid, and hopefully an April Fools joke. One detail isn’t as bad as the story makes it out to be, though – since they say that “If a passenger successfully obtains a boarding pass, his/her name is not on the No Fly list” you *can* find out if you’ll be flying before you reach the airport, if you check in online.

    Doesn’t make it much better, but you’d at least not waste the trip to the airport…

  8. This should be very good for Cubana de Aviacion’s business- I can’t imagine a Cuban government-owned airline giving passenger details to the Americans. They also fly to Canada, Mexico and a couple of places in the Caribbean that aren’t Cuba, in addition to London. So British travellers who are on this mysterious list, or want to do business in both Cuba and the US, could just fly with them and change planes in Havana if necessary.

    I imagine Cubana’s Russian-made aircraft are a bit less plush than whatever BA flies on that route, but them’s the breaks…

    1. The big thing is that you’d need a route that doesn’t risk US overflight, so a UK->Cuba->Canada route wouldn’t work. (Besides, somewhere I saw a claim that DHS approval was specifically required for Cuba.)

      A route that might work is UK->Greenland->flight plan that involves a horribly inefficient and ugly flight route to avoid the US to get to populated areas of Canada.

      Mexico and Cuba, the best route may actually be through southern Europe or Africa, and South America.

      To do Mexico to Canada while avoiding the US, best bet is to fly back east, then north, then back west, which is absurdly expensive.

      1. Going by wikitravel, there are route flights from Iceland to Nuuk, and a biweekly Copenhagen-Kangerlussuaq route. Getting from there to Canada looks more complicated: As of 2012, there are flights now and then to Iqaluit- but that’s really the far end of nowhere as well, so getting to the metropolitan region of Canada will be (even more) expensive. They actually recommend going by Iceland if you’re flying Canada->Greenland.

        1. Another way to get to Canada might be to fly directly from Heathrow to St. John’s- but then you’re stuck in Newfoundland…

          Calgary and Vancouver also aren’t on the list yet but might be soon.

          Oh, and you can fly Frankfurt-Whitehorse apparently.

      2. Oops- I thought Cubana didn’t overfly the US, but apparently they do (didn’t used to, which involved a fairly roundabout route to Montreal). Still works for getting to Mexico or the Caribbean, though, and I don’t know if Cubana share passenger details.

        For UK to Canada I suggest Icelandair LHR-KEF-YHZ or LHR-KEF-YYZ, but unfortunately the last leg of both is seasonal, and we’d have to see if Icelandair are also sharing passenger details.

        Also, your reference to DHS approval for Cuba is only for US citizens, I was referring to UK citizens.

  9. I don’t like it, but it beats the alternative – of a person in either the US or UK making a bunch of threatening posts about how much they hate the west, and then being able to fly out to Pakistan or somewhere to meet with terrorists, or train at a camp.  More countries should collaborate and compare their no-fly lists through Interpol. Force the terrorists, particularly the home-grown wanna-bes to stay online, where their activities can be easily watched by intel agents, and often even by private citizens, too.  And also where they can’t get hands-on training, nor  established F2F connections.

    I think the no-fly list is among the most actively contributing post-911 controls towards the fact that we haven’t sustained a single successful hijacking or airport/airplane terror incident since 9/11, in spite of all the failures and blunders and unfairness involved.  Sure people have snuck devices on planes and attempted to detonate, but they didn’t have either the tools – or, far more likely, the knowledge and experience – required to successfully down an airplane with a weapon or destructive device.

    1. That might be valid, if the US No-Fly List weren’t so easy to get on to and so impossible to get off of.  For example, when children are turned away because their name is on the List, it put into question the quality of the list.  When reporters critical of the List find out their names are suddenly on the List, it puts into question the motivations for using the List.

    2. This is completely and utterly irrelevant to “flying out to Pakistan or somewhere”, as it’d only cover flights to “the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada”.

      “I think the no-fly list is among the most actively contributing post-911 controls towards the fact that we haven’t sustained a single successful hijacking or airport/airplane terror incident since 9/11…”

      Er, yes. “I think” being the operative phrase there. David Icke *thinks* the British royal family are aliens. Rush Limbaugh *thinks* women who use the pill are whores. Plenty of people *think* plenty of boneheaded, patently false things. Do you have *any* data to back up your claim, or is it nothing more than conjecture?

      And what of “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” an’ all that?

      (Edit PS: “the alternative”? False dichotomy lol!)

      1. Well if you’re going to stop people saying ‘I think’ without appending a list of references you’ll make conversation difficult.

        1. “I think …” is almost completely redundant in written argument, and  useful only as an alternative to “umm…” or “errr…” in spoken discussion. The same goes for “In my opinion…”. “I find that…” has limited justification for its existence – at least it announces that what the speaker is about to report is based only on his or her own experience – but most of these phrases are just filler. Don’t let me get started on “Of course …” 

  10. I know exactly why they are doing it.

    Let’s say you’re an American who takes a little vacation to Africa, and while you’re there some authorities back home stipulate you might actually be coordinating with Al-Queda instead of vacationing and add you to the No-Fly list. You discover this when trying to board your flight back that you can’t go home. So what do you do?

    You catch a flight to Canada or Mexico and drive over the border because there isn’t a No Drive list, and you can get in that way at least. Obviously, this is an attempt to close that little loophole, sovereignty of other nations be damned (although considering Canada has a government who is more than happy to cave-in comply with any American demand, this might actually be something we’ve wholeheartedly agreed to behind the scenes in spite of this granting the United States the ability to override our nation’s immigration policy, a notion which previous governments have rejected every time).

    I suppose they are also concerned about a would-be terrorist who could use a boat ride from Cuba  as a means to get into Florida (since that always works out so well).

    1. Yes, under the old system such a hypothetical person as you describe would simply be met at the airport in arrival on US soil. That was clearly a rubbish option. Now, the US gets to play some kind of chase game, trying to second guess how they will come home. Could be by plane? Could be by boat? Maybe they’ll sneak across from Mexico! It’s so much more fun AND much more effective than simply meeting them at the airport. Actual malefactors will be alerted that Uncle Sam is on to them, so they can have a decent chance to go on the run, AND innocent people will be hugely inconvenienced. Everything points to your suggestion being exactly correct.

    2. You do still have to go through customs if you drive across the border. 

      I was detained once coming back from Canada because I looked like someone that was on one of their lists, even though my passport came up in the computer (right in the customs booth, not in secondary screening) as valid and AFAIK my name isn’t on the DNF list (I’m pretty sure it’s on other lists now but I don’t think it was at the time, it was a few years ago).

      I guarantee that at the land borders they’re hooked into the Do Not Fly list and that your name appearing on it will immediately flag you for secondary screening, and if they look through your passport and see that you avoided flying directly into the US, you’re fucked. Even if to a rational person nothing you’ve done is suspicious, and even though people who live near the border fly in and out of Canadian cities all the time to get cheaper international flights.

      p.s. I was in Toronto last week and drove by a huge billboard advertising tourism in Cuba. If this is all true, presumably Canadian airlines are already sharing passenger information with DHS like is laid out here.

      1. Actually, Canada has had flights to Cuba for ages now (we don’t share the same continued zeal against Castro I suppose). I had Christian friends who took their honeymoon there many years ago and smuggled as many Bibles into the country as they could for the people there (don’t agree with their religion, but that took guts). And, yes, any flight going over U.S. airspace has to comply with the No Fly list, that just makes sense (if the No Fly list made more sense in the first place).

        The thing about crossing into the country on land is, once you’re in your country you have rights. As long as you’re a U.S. citizen, especially one who isn’t charged with a crime, they can’t just turn you away on your own soil. That’s why the “keep away” plan seems to be ideal for the dealing with the problem. And, if you didn’t have the citizenship option, the borders are well-known to be particularly porous if you’re determined enough. I suppose that’s an extension to the logic, as well.

  11. Not surprising in the least; in fact I suspect the UK will be complying whether or not they formally agree to.
    Did you catch some of these cases, among others, in the past year or two?

    British citizen barred from Toronto-UK flight, stranded because of “US” no-fly list:

    Aeromexico Mexico-Paris flight diverted to Montreal, passenger yanked off & detained due to “US” no-fly list:

    British authorities detain man who travels to the UK *by boat* because he’s on the “US” no-fly list:

    “US” no-fly list orders mid-flight diversion of Air France Paris-Mexico flight:

    Blatantly evil is the new mundane.

  12. Given that they already demand that anyone Flying into USA get the same security checkups as a US flight, resulting in the checks more or less spreading globally to make connecting flights easier, i see no joke in this…

  13. Well, I certainly hope that they aren’t aware of the names on my Canadian passports. It’s bad enough that I have to drive up to Hamilton or Toronto to fly to Europe and Canadian papers to fly.

    Came someone please ring up NATO and tell them that we’re ready for our regime change?

    Will this end as time travel to 1984 or THX-1138? Do they want to place a 24-hour surveillance on each of us? To what end?

    As Heinlein said, “This can’t go on…”

  14. Date on the story is 
    MONDAY 26 MARCH 2012

    Earlier story:

  15. As this post from a few years ago points out, people who are considered serious threats aren’t even listed on the no-fly list for fear of tipping them off.

    So the no-fly list would be better named the “People Certified Harmless But Whose Opinions We Don’t Like List”.

    Oh well, as long as the terrorists don’t catch on to the “give a false name” trick, everything will be

    I’ve said too much.

    1. As always, turnabout is fair play. If Canada is expected enforce the “People Certified Harmless But Whose Opinions We Don’t Like List”, then obviously Canada can add a few people to the list also, or keep a list of its own.

      Most flights from the US mainland to Alaska – especially those from Washington – pass over Canadian territory. The same goes for flights to/from Europe; many take the polar route, and flights to the UK from the north-eastern US tend to fly over Nova Scotia and its waters.

      If an Alaskan governor can’t get home from Washington or a Congressman has problems getting home from Britain, Canada can simply point out that it’s going by US rules.

  16. I will now prove that terrorists are stupid. If they were smart, they would just get one known questionable individual to legally change his name to “James Smith” and get hundreds of thousand of Americans put on the no-fly list. Repeat with other common white American names and throw the no-fly list into chaos.

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